Confederate CitiesThe Urban South during the Civil War Era

Confederate CitiesThe Urban South during the Civil War Era

Andrew L. Slap and Frank Towers

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226300177

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

This volume explores the relationship between the Civil War and cities in the eleven slave states that formed the Confederacy. Separate essays use the lens of the city to re-examine main themes of the Civil War era, such as the broad scope of the war, secession, gender, emancipation, and the new urban South created in the wake of the war's destruction. All of these topics have been the subject of a more general renaissance in Civil War studies that has bridged earlier thematic divides between military, political, and social history. Along with a more integrative approach to Civil War history, recent work by historians of the 19th-century South has dramatically revised our understanding of slavery's relationship to capitalist economics and cultural modernity. As late as the 1980s conventional scholarly wisdom regarded slavery as a retrograde institution that hindered economic development while encouraging a paternalistic, anti-modern politics and culture that among other things inhibited the growth of cities. As this earlier perspective has come under a wide-ranging critique cities have increasingly seemed like important places to study the Civil War-era South, rather than anomalous exceptions to a supposed agrarian norm. This volume adds to that the current intellectual movement by showcasing the findings of recent studies that integrate southern cities into the history of the Civil War and debating the merits of this new understanding of slavery, the South, and its cities.